Sunday, December 13, 2009

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?
Author and Illustrator: Alison Lester
All Ages
Read Alone - 4+

Imagine that you decide to take a break from work and home and embark on a long, long drive around India for 6 months along with your family. A few posts back we read about folks who travelled along with river Cauvery on a Maruti for 4 months. This story is similar, but around the borders of a country. Sounds very exciting and challenging. Will I be able to do it? Hmmm... Probably no. I would be worried about falling sick, about food and so on. I guess I am not that much of a traveler - well an arm-chair traveler to be precise :). But, I admire the folks who can leave everything and decide to go on a long trip.

Probably based on the author's own travel, Grace, an eight year old girl is taken on a trip around Australia for 3 months on a old camper trailer by her parents. She is accompanied by her elder brother, Luke and younger brother Billy. The kids miss the entire winter term at school. They would probably end up learning more in such a trip. They drive around the perimeter of Australia and watch and stop at every museum, natural landscape, river, mountains and every geographical significant and insignificant place in Australia.

The book is presented from point of view of girl Grace. She throws in a fascinating surprise every other page by giving her own interpretation for some the landmarks. When Grace goes to see the giant Pinnacles near Perth, an extraordinary rock formation; she imagines that these rocks are upturned giant monster with only the teeth visible to us.

The layout of the book is varied and it kept surprising me every other page. Every page is different. A few of the pages look like pages out of a photo album, while a few others look like a full page paintings.

Now for the title for the book - 'Are we there yet?'. You should have guessed it by now. Grace's younger brother, Billy, keeps asking every other page - 'Are we there yet?'. As a driver-designate in my family, I have heard this so many times. My daughter would climb in and as soon as we have moved 100 meters she would ask if we have reached the destination. Imagine hearing this for 3 months and for around 10,000 kms.

One place that really fascinated me was a place called Uluru right in the centre of Australia. If you try to read it in Tamil, it could mean 'Central Town/Village/place'.

The book is a combination of travelogue, comic, fantastic imagination, photo album, brochure, advertisement, National Geographic magazine and Discovery television channel all mixed up together - All these portrayed with some amazing illustrations.

Can you think of a better way of introducing a kid or an adult about a country. I cannot.


Choxbox said...

Please tell me where to get it!

And now I feel worse about not being around for that workshop on creative writing by Alison Lester :( :)

sathish said...

choxbox, Hippocampus has a copy.

Anusha said...

how awesome! we love road trips and did a ton of driving over summer. although to be on the road for 6m is a bit too much!

we recently finished Possum Magic, and this book would be an awesome continuation to Aussieland adventures.

also, I read abt a couple who're actually doing this with their 9 yo. They RV around europe and camp at different places. living their dream.

sathish said...

Kodi's Mom, It would be a nice one to read along with Possum Magic.

Tharini said...

Oh wow!!! Adventurous and imaginative!! Quite the pick for armchair travellers! Great pick!

Praba Ram said...

In doing Australia for CROCUS, came across Are we there yet? I was tempted to get it from the library. However, given the three yr old's love for animals, decided to do the ones I did. :-) Nice that you got to review.

Check this other Australian book by Nadia Wheatley - My place, we got to read during CROCUS. More for older kids and K liked it a little bit. Historical fiction about the same place viewed by different generations going back from 1988 to 1788...An interesting way to present history, I thought. I sat glued to it for a good 15 mins. :-)

sathish said...

Praba, Thanks for that reco. will check it out.

Tharini - Armchair travellers have it easy with all these books!

Meera Sriram said...

Sounds like a great package! Brings back memories of our drive cross-country for 9 nights - from Massachusetts to California via 15 states in midwinter. But those were the days sans kids :) Can't even dream of one like that now, not knowing where we will eat, with restrooms 70 miles aways and walk-ins into motels! We often talk about this to our daughter. But months on the road might be even more amusing to children! Thanks Sathish.

sathish said...

meera - 9 days of cross-country - wow! that would have been interesting...

utbtkids said...

Road trips! Being on the road, taking time to see the sounds too romantic.

Sheela said...

Echo Meera and amazed at Kodi's mom! My road-trip days met with sudden death when we welcomed Ana... But, like you said Satish, arm-chair travel is just as good - and we can do it with our kids! Thanks for an interesting find!

Anusha said...

we found this in our library and loved it!
i was awed by the diverse landscape of australia and my 4yo was thrilled by the idea of sleeping in an camper :)
it was slightly long for him for sitting, but we did enjoy it over multiple sessions. thanks so much for bringing this book to us!

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